Oh boy. An award show. Shall we drink the poison now, or wait for the first acceptance speech? To the surprise of anyone who's ever sat through one of these affairs, last Tuesday's inaugural Nashville Scene Music Awards ceremonyunlike the Tonys, the Grammys, the Oscars, the Emmys, the Regional Emmys and the Cable Ace Awardsdidn't suck. The bands rocked, the crowd mingled, and the whole event went so smoothly that it wound up running an hour ahead of schedule. In a historic first for an award show, organizers Niki Tyree and Natalie Kilgore actually had to ask people to go on longer.
Some obligedlike winners Feable Weiner, who led the crowd in a hilariously dragged-out cheer spelling out their entire name. Others were more concise. Slack's Chris Slack spoke for the room with his eloquent speech: "The only thing missing is a bowl of nachos in the middle of the room." Venus Hum vocalist Annette Strean, whose group picked up both the Best Band and Best DJ/Electronica awards, thanked the crowd with disarming sincerityas did longtime club favorite Jonell Mosser, who picked up the award for best R&B/blues act. "This is the first award I've ever won," she said, tearfully cradling the baby Marshall amp that served as a plaque.
The short-winded guests of honor left more room for performers Will Hoge and Jason White, who brought the night to a boil. Bluegrass singer-songwriter Adrienne Young whipcracked her band Little Sadie through a fiery acoustic set, which she interrupted only to say she voted for her category's eventual winners, Old Crow Medicine Show. (Is it true they won by only one vote?) Fast-talking, slow-walking, fleet-fingered Music City blues legend Johnny Jones waded into the cowed crowd tossing off nasty licks, matched only by the lyric content of songs like "My Girlfriend Has a Girlfriend." He soloed so hard his trademark black beret fell to the floor.
As for fashion, several ladies had that whole Madonna-circa-1984 thing going on, with the outward slips and the hot-pink poofy-frilly skirts. (Let it be said that Adrienne Young looks way hotter wearing a banjo.) In his leather jacket and pegged pants, The Taste singer Clint McGown looked like the lost Ramone; we can only hope he makes good on his threat that the glammy headbangers' upcoming LP will sound like Too Fast for Love meets Judas Priest. For sartorial flair, nobody could touch Chark Kinsolving, co-owner of the Mercy Lounge which held the event. Kinsolving's psychedelic outfit could've come off a Marc Bolan record sleeve, circus-striped trousers and all. Told he looked like one of the Small Faces, Kinsolving laughed and said, "Cool."
While crowds dug the show, bands chilled on the Mercy Lounge's upstairs deck, laughing, smoking and networking by the intermittent glow of a single motion-activated streetlight below. After the last act, Big Jim Slade took on all comers for full-contact karaoke. McGown sang The Cult's "Li'l Devil," which so excited Will Hoge sideman Dean Tomasek that he stopped in mid-loadout and bum-rushed the stage with a tambourine. (More cowbell, please.) Everybody knows Mike "Grimey" Grimes loves Guilty Pleasures, but nobody knew how guilty they were until he turned up knowing all the words to Loverboy's "Working for the Weekend."
Already plans are underway for next year's event. The one thing everyone agreed would improve the event is free food and drink, but around here people say that about church services. When that's the biggest complaint about an awards show, somebody's done something right.